Impact Blog

How to change a life – by getting people talking

August 2021

CONTENT WARNING: This episode covers issues around mental health and suicide.

Many of CQU’s graduate researchers have worked in industry, before they start their research degrees. But just how, and why, does a onetime chef end up researching suicide in the construction industry?

For Michael Bowles, as a chef, working long hours was stressful and also par for the course. But after a career change, working long hours in the construction industry, while also juggling study and a young family, became too much. He was no longer coping. He knew he had to change something, so he started talking.

Building on his experiences in the construction industry, and knowing how much talking helped him, he is now on a mission to help his industry workmates start talking too.


Because in Australia, one construction worker will commit suicide every two days. Pretty startling statistics.

After years in the industry, Michael Bowles knows more needs to be done to address these statistics but it’s a complex problem. For one, there’s not enough information about how suicide in the construction industry affects workforces and whole organisations. So Michael decided he wanted to investigate this further through a PhD.

As someone who didn’t think they were naturally smart, and went back to university later in life, he sometimes can’t believe he has ended up doing a PhD. But he also believes that by conducting his research, and getting people talking, he can change lives.

Hear more about Michael’s story via the CQU podcast:

If this episode raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Photo by Ümit Yıldırım on Unsplash


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